Conference Background

[EN]  In the light of global developments such as economic globalisation, the formation of knowledge-based economies, increasing mobility and changing demographic structures, developing a constructive approach to diversity has been gaining central importance. If we are to balance globalisation effects successfully, we need new and sustainable approaches for combating social segregation and ensuring equal access to education. At the same time, the cultural sector is called upon to take the population diversity and the right of equal access for all into account, and to open up to global art trends more than before. Carefully implemented, appropriate diversity concepts can proactively contribute in this context. In such concepts, the diversity of persons in organisations and organizational contexts is not viewed as a deficit. On the contrary, their potential to better accomplish various tasks is systematically integrated into the organisational concept.  

In 2007, in the context of the “European Year of Equality for All”, a compendium on diversity management, including practical examples of Austrian businesses, non-profit organisations and, not least, public administration institutions, was published, representing an important milestone for the incipient debate in Austria.

Important international initiatives observably gave an additional momentum to the discussion. In particular, two United Nations documents provided important impulses for the educational and cultural scene: the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, ratified by 119 parties by October 2011, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by 108 countries so far. The ongoing OECD discussion on diversity, not only in the context of education policy, and the strategic efforts directed at social inclusion, stipulated in the EU strategy “Europe 2020” are being more widely debated – both in Austria and internationally.

The concept of managing diversity is manifesting itself increasingly and concretely, not only in many business enterprises, non-profit organisations, cultural institutions and international organisations, but also at the national level. For example, a department for diversity and language policy, special needs education and inclusion, gifted and talented education has been hard at work at the Austrian Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture since 2010.

As an organisation involved with education and cultural policy, KulturKontakt Austria has been putting a strategic emphasis on diversity – both in its programmes and activities and at the organisational level –  since 2009. In this context, particular attention is paid to both national and international developments. The organisation follows an inclusive approach and  takes the interdependence of diversity dimensions into particular account.  In addition to internal efforts aimed at examining the diversity aspects of its programmes and activities, at adjusting them accordingly and implementing them with diversity-awareness, KulturKontakt Austria has been striving to intensify public discussion of these issues by holding two discussion events.

The conference SPOT ON 3: REALITY. Diversity. 1 Challenge – 3 Discourses intended to further pursue this objective: the broad international socio-political framework will be highlighted in a panel discussion, to be followed by in-depth discussions, targeted questions and best-practice examples relating to education, the arts and culture.

The conference further aimed to

  • contribute  to the in-depth  discussion of the potential for managing diversity  in educational and cultural institutions thus helping to put an additional emphasis on the issue;
  • support and intensify  the networking between representatives of organisations and initiatives involved in diversity management beyond geographical, institutional and issue-related  boundaries;
  • enrich national discussions  by adding international positions,  making them  more conducive  for further development;
  • Further develop the issue by exploring specific questions in priority areas.

The conference was open to representatives of Austrian and international institutions working in the fields of education, the arts and culture.

Download PDF: Background: DIVERSITY. 1 Challenge – 3 Discourses

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